Points of Engagement
Our Chairman, Charles Kessler, discusses the ‘Points of Engagement’ with premium beauty magazine Esprit.
So where does the design process begin? It is with the brand itself, according to Michael Sheridan, Chairman of Sheridan & Co. “Product knowledge and placing the customer at the centre of the proposition has to be the goal,” he says. “Understanding ‘needs’ and ‘what’s on their mind’ at any point of engagement is key to knowing if there is a sale to be had.” All the design experts spoken to for this article agreed that on arrival in store the customer must be excited by the physical representation of the brand they have probably already thrillingly experienced in their own homes through slick TV commercials and glossy magazine images.
At times, expectation has been built to a fever pitch. Engagement management is a particular focus for Paula Dowie, Managing Partner at Ignite Retail Design. She explains: “The ultimate objective, as with all retail communication, is to draw consumers into the brand and this requires specific engagement at each stage of the process. I call this the ‘aisle to armchair’ approach, by which I mean there should be no disconnect at any stage of a brand’s communication. The TV commercial should match the brand image and experience in store. Only in this way will the product live up to the consumer’s expectations.” Daniel Worboys, Head of Creative at Coloration, believes simplicity and putting the brand first are prerequisites of effective design. “The design,” he says, “should sell an experience to the consumer, creating a story or theme that people are attracted to. The attraction can be through the consumers wanting to brand themselves in a desired way. For example, Davidoff Cool Water which evokes adventure, nature and freedom, will attract consumers who desire these attributes. Within stores there are lots of temptations and distractions to floating shoppers. Designs should not over complicate as consumers’ attention spans are limited, meaning the designs need to be simple but effective.”
Effective brand communication must also be sustainable over a lengthy period of time, and the fact that counters are a permanent fixture in store, is central to the design process, says Charles Kessler, Chairman of Kesslers International: “The counter, like so much of display is a physical embodiment of the brand message.” And that, he says, means it needs to have longevity: “As a permanent support, it needs to go beyond just the promotional message of the moment.” It must, he says, be “long-lasting in its image”, while the design must be “practical” allowing for use across many different product promotions.
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